London Rollergirls (Montréal #1) vs Arch Rival Roller Derby (Madison #3)
Arch Rival Roller Derby of St. Louis, Mo., USA (D1 Madison #3, WFTDA #8) took an early lead over London Rollergirls of London, England, UK (D1 Montréal #1, WFTDA #5) in Division 1, Game 5, the first of Day 2 at the 2016 International WFTDA Championships in Portland, OR, USA at the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum. The lead lasted for a quick 13 minutes before London executed a point assault on Arch Rival. From that point on, London played through with their sights on semifinals. London Rollergirls defeated Arch Rival 197–94.
With jams lasting mere seconds in the opening foray, Arch Rival made it clear that they were working with speed and track familiarity to their advantage. Jammer Bricktator — who scored 99 of the team’s 177 in Game 1 against Denver Roller Derby on Friday — took the star for St. Louis in the first jam. She got lead, but called it off, not realizing London jammer Rogue Runner went to the penalty box on a back block. Bricktator followed up the first jam with another lead jammer status in the second jam, and she picked up four points. Her teammate Swanson also got lead and four points, putting the team up 9–0 in the first three jams of the game; only 2:45 elapsed on the clock, a testament to Arch’s reliance on speedy matchups.
Master Blaster, a transfer from Bear City Roller Derby of Berlin, Germany in Feb. 2016, donned the star in the fourth jam and made a pronounced effort to slow things down for her team. She refused to call the jam despite Arch Rival jammer Harmony Killerbruise putting pressure on the London pack, and it was a move that worked to Master Blaster’s benefit; she scored nine points to Killerbruise’s four. In the following jam AnDracula brought in four points to tie things up at 13, but Arch Rival managed to keep the gap just out of reach for three more jams.
Like the predictable tide on the Thames, London surged with 17 minutes remaining in the first and stole the lead from Arch Rival. Rogue Runner made the London point shift possible by scoring six unanswered points after securing lead with agility, managing to stay in bounds. The lead, narrow for three jams, was widened dramatically by an 18-point jam from London’s AnDracula whose job was made easier by a 2–4 pack advantage in her favor.
It took only eight more minutes for London to double-up on Arch Rival, a feat they made possible in jam 18 of the first period, just four jams from the period’s conclusion. AnDracula put an exclamation point on the period when she scored 20 points — the game’s highest — in the final jam. With that, London sailed into the half with a 69-point lead over Arch Rival, 106–37.
“We needed some time to adjust to the track, and it took us those first 13 minutes,” London captain Juke Boxx said. “Arch Rival was already familiar with the track from yesterday, so we had a learning curve. Plus, they played a lot of flat walls, and we needed to figure out which defensive strategy would work best.”
With a comfortable lead, London used the second period to finesse their play and tighten their defense. The team played a distinct strategy — three on defense, one on offense — throughout the period. Most often the offensive assist came from London veterans DieDie or Stefanie Mainey. London blanked Arch Rival for eight jams of the second period, from 23:01 to 11:53. During that time, London jammers scored 60 points, including a 20-point pick-up from AnDracula. Arch Rival returned the favor in the following five jams, scoring 32, but the win was already beyond their grasp. London gave Arch Rival eight power jams throughout the game, while Arch allowed only two for London. In the last four minutes of play, London dropped two jams — one on a high block from Master Blaster and one on a track cut from Lexi Lightspeed — but the team’s tight defense helped them come out on top, outscoring Arch Rival 18–14 in the waning minutes of play.
“We practiced blocking and defense against our own jammers a lot this season in order to solidify our defensive strategy, and it paid off during this game,” Juke Boxx said.
London moves on to play in the semifinal match on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. PST against the winner of the Gotham Girls Roller Derby and Angel City Derby Girls game.
London Rollergirls (D1 Montréal #1, WFTDA #5) 197
Arch Rival Roller Derby (D1 Madison #3, WFTDA #8) 94